powerHouse Books Launch: Skin Deep: Looking Beyond the Tattoos by Steven Burton

powerHouse Books Launch: Skin Deep: Looking Beyond the Tattoos by Steven Burton

Thursday Dec 14, 2017
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

POWERHOUSE @ the Archway
28 Adams Street (Corner of Adams & Water Street @ the Archway)
Brooklyn , NY 11201



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powerHouse Books presents the book launch for Skin Deep: Looking Beyond Tattoos by photographer Steven Burton. For decades now tattoos have been potent symbols of the Los Angeles gang-life scene. Skin Deep uniquely highlights the impact tattoos have on the way a person is perceived by showing what each participant might look like without them.

 

About the Book:

What does this prominently placed imagery mean for those men and women who somehow extricate themselves from gang life or are released from prison or want to separate themselves from the gang and start life anew? The very tattoos which may have helped guard against the constant threat of rival gangs now bar many ex-gang members from employment, life without harassment, and the freedom to move on from a past they have worked hard to overcome.

Skin Deep is a photography project that seeks to show the effects of this ongoing gang conflict in Los Angeles. Photographer Steven Burton set out to photograph realistic portraits of former gang members who are trying to escape the revolving door of death and prison. For these men and women, the aftermath of gang life is not only carried within–it is also scrawled across their faces and bodies. Skin Deep uniquely highlights the impact tattoos have on the way a person is perceived by showing what each participant might look like without them.

Utilizing before and, thanks to the advantages of Photoshop, after photographs, these men and women got a chance to see what they’d look like without the inked visual armor. After the bare images were presented to each, they were asked to talk about themselves and their families, what tattoos represent to them, and their aspirations for the future.

Seeing themselves without tattoos–many for the first time in decades–naturally brought about a wide range of emotions, recollections, hopes, and dreams, with responses such as: “I am shocked. I don’t know what to say about this. I am going to give this to my mom, she is going to be so happy.” “I think this guy in the pictures would judge the one with tattoos right off the top.” “That’s crazy, that looks real crazy. Those came out cool man! I think I like it better without the tattoos.”

Burton met his subjects thanks to Father Greg Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries in LA, and the entire project is inspired by his tireless work to help rehabilitate these former gang members and give them all a crucial second chance in life. Skin Deep offers a chance to expose the realities these individuals face when trying to rebuild their lives and re-enter society. As importantly, for the public, the project provokes consideration regarding how society perceives and judges people with tattoos and violent pasts and seeks to garner empathy for those caught in the crosshairs of gang life as they try to change their futures.

 

About the Author & Photographer:

Originally from the UK, Steven Burton is a seasoned portrait and lifestyle photographer with an education in graphic design and advertising.

Steven’s career has taken him to remote locations around the world such as Tibet, Papua New Guinea, Burma, Asia and the Middle East to name a few. He has worked with advertising agencies and NGO’s such as the United Nations, Grass Roots Soccer (South Africa), Homebody industries LA and McGarry Bowen. His personal work has garnered him international acclaim and attention.

Steven is soon to launch a book (October 27th, 2017) titled “Skin deep, looking beyond the tattoos” with Powerhouse Books Publishing Co. In this personal project, Steven photographed portraits of heavily tattooed ex-gang members, removed their tattoos on Photoshop, then returned and interviewed them about their lives, while showing them the retouched images.

Skin Deep so far has become an internet sensation with collectively over 45 million views on social media. It has also featured international on most major news channels, editorial and tv platforms. The premise of the book questions how we as a society judge people based on their appearance and also how we judge ourselves.

Steven has recently re-located back to NYC, lives in Brooklyn and when he is not photographing, you can find him surfing at Rockaway beach, painting at home or just loving life in NYC.

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